Comment 39922

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted April 16, 2010 at 22:33:49

Well, that is exactly what a user fee is: instead of everyone paying for a particular government service through general taxes regardless of whether they use it or not, those actually using the service pay more (or all) of the cost. Obviously residents are not being taxed twice: the tax dollars that would have gone to paying the cost of dealing with the accident can now be spent somewhere else (or even used to lower taxes).

In recent years governments have introduced user fees on all sorts of things that used to be paid out of general taxes (e.g. water is metered, and we pay to visit conservation areas).

In particular, the user fees for public transit are actually quite high in Canada compared to other countries. In Hamilton, users pay about 55% of the total cost (compared to about 30% in most other G8 countries). In comparison, drivers pay nothing directly towards local roads through user fees (gas taxes fund provincial and federal roads; municipal road maintenance and construction is paid from property taxes).

Perhaps asking drivers to pay 100% of the cost of emergency services is too high, but it does seem strange that user fees for drivers (e.g. road tolls or even parking taxes) are anathema, while they are (albeit grudgingly) accepted for other services.

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